Kids Are Hard. Marriage After Kids is Harder.

I just loved this so much that I had to share…really well said. Enjoy!

My husband and I were brilliant communicators before we had children. I don’t just mean talking about mindless drivel over a pint or five. I mean discussing as in depth as was humanly possible about what our lives together would look like through every eventuality.

We discussed everything about making living together work, making the finances work, splitting up chores, making a marriage work, making everything fair. We even discussed what our divorce might look like. Just in case.

Young, carefree, childless and in love Young, carefree, childless and in love

As if we were following some cliché storyline, we fell pregnant; then came the biggest discussions of all. We covered everything we could possibly think of on how we would make it work; what our expectations were of each other as parents, what our expectations of ourselves would be as parents. We meticulously picked apart our childhoods to take the good and dump the bad. We were ready. We…

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Reclamation…reclaiming your marriage

178862897Reclamation:the act of returning something to a former, better state

I also love this definition from vocabulary.com:

Reclamation is the noun form of the verb to reclaim. Most people involved in reclamation what to reclaim something out of a sense of moral or environmental duty. Since re means again, it makes sense that a reclamation involves restoring something to its former glory, especially something that has gone to the dogs. Anything that’s fallen on hard times is a good candidate for reclamation.”

If you’re on the internet at all lately, you’ve seen just a ton of “propaganda” promoting the idea that we, as women, hold all the cards in our relationship and he, as our man, better get it straight or we’re out.  There’s so much entitlement in statements like these, don’t you think? A few examples of these things would be

“If he doesn’t fight for you/follow you when you leave, he’s not worth it anyway”

“If he doesn’t get jealous when you ______, then you deserve better”

“If you’re the only one trying, then it’s not worth it” (sometimes you’ll be the only one trying, but it’s totally worth it!)

It’s these type of statements, added in with the TV shows and movies these days that depict men as idiots and below us as women, that push this thought process along.  Let me say this first, marriage is H.A.R.D., the hardest thing you will probably ever do in your life.  At times it will break you down and make you think you want out.  Be honest, I’m sure at some point or another we’ve all wanted off of this crazy train wreck.  But, if you stayed with it, if you didn’t give up, and you worked on your marriage together and reclaimed it, then you know what can happen when you’re both broken and laid out and you hold on to that promise that you once made to each other.

I am definitely not the guru for all relationship issues, but my husband and I have been through some serious problems together, both of us wanting to leave at one time or another.  We’re both type A personalities and firstborns (insert explosion here), so you can only imagine the hard headed “discussions” that have gone on between us.  But, no matter what we’ve gone through, no matter what’s been said, no matter how badly feelings have been hurt (and they have been hurt), we’ve always come back together afterwards and were stronger than before.  It didn’t always happen right away, and not without a lot of humility, but we always ended up better.

Here are the ways I think we, as women, are our worst enemies in our marriages:

1.  We compare

We look at Facebook and see all of our friends with the “perfect” marriages and we compare.  We go to church and see everyone put on their best clothes and their happy faces and we compare.  We start to count up all the ways that “her” husband does this, or “her” life is so much better because of that…and all of that comparison takes our eyes off of being thankful for what we have.  The best way I’ve ever heard this put was that “we are comparing everyone else’s highlights reel to our behind the scenes”, and that isn’t a fair outlook.  Comparison is the thief of our joy.  It took me years to figure this out, don’t look at what others have, look at what God’s given you.

 

2.  We focus on Him, not on us

I’ll say it – it’s easier to focus on and point out issues with someone else than it is to fix ourselves.  I’ve always said that if I could be my husband’s Holy Spirit, I would do a great job!  We can spend so much time pointing fingers and angry at him for what he’s doing wrong, that we don’t even stop to think of how we could adjust our own attitude in the situation.  When we can focus on what we need to do first, and pray for him, the situation can be resolved before it gets too big.

 

3.  We expect him to read our mind

Come on ladies, I know I’m not alone here.  We want him to take out the trash without being asked.  We want him to know we need a date night without having to say anything.  We want him to go grocery shopping with us because he thinks it would be fun.  Never. Going. To. Happen.  We can pretty tough to live with sometimes, especially when men don’t know what we even need!  Even though it would be great if he came up and helped with the dishes “just because”, be willing to ask for the help/time that you need with him.

 

4.  We care too much about what other people think

Let me explain a little here about why I would say that – my husband is a big guy who can be a bit rough sometimes if you don’t understand him.  He wasn’t raised to be much of a “people person” so that comes a lot harder to him than some other people.  Between his size, his shaved head and his tattoos, he is misunderstood a lot.  Over the years I’ve tried to “groom him” to fit the mold of what I wanted as a husband, what looked good to everyone else, but those years ruined his trust in me and only told him that who he was could never be enough for me.  Since then, I’ve come to realize that he even though he looks scary to some people, people who know him know that he’s a teddy bear (he really likes it when I say that, it’s his favorite).  I’ve had to learn that if people are going to judge him, and us, based upon appearances, then they are missing out.  Don’t put too much thought into how other people see your husband, not even your friends, just encourage him to be better every day and pray for him to become who he is supposed to be.

Ladies, DO NOT give up on your marriages!  The world (and sometimes your own friends) would tell you that it’s not worth it, that HE isn’t worth it, that you are right and it’s all his fault…but that is NOT the truth.  When you made that promise before God and everyone, you said “for better or worse”.  These days it seems like everyone loves the better, but forgot all about working through “the worse”.  Remember that we’re not here on this earth to have a good, easy life…we’re here to learn to be holy and better people.  That growth doesn’t come from an easy relationship and our whole world revolving around us, it comes from the hard work, humility and brokenness that it takes to make a marriage work, continually asking God to help us along the way.

 

Do you have any “tips” that you would give to other women going through a hard time in their marriage?  Have you chosen not to give up on your marriage and seen the benefits of that choice?  I’d love to hear about it!  Share in the comments below!

You know you’re almost 40 when…

472312421So in a few days I’ll be 38, which is so dangerously close to 40 that it has me worried a bit.  I keep hearing things like “40 is the new 20”, and lies like that.  I’m not opposed to getting older (I am already a Grandma you know, it would be nice if the age finally fit the stage of life I was in for once!), I really want to do it gracefully – which doesn’t mean I won’t dye my gray hair and use wrinkle cream – it just means that I won’t fight it every step and lie about my age.

Without further adieu, here’s my list…

 

You know you’re almost 40 when:

…you’ve already bought your first pair of reading glasses

…you can’t jump on a trampoline anymore (you know why)

…you look in the mirror and think “wow, I look just like my mom!”

…you realize your “figure” is never going to be what it was in high school again, and you come to terms with that

…you realize that you might wear Spanx for the rest of your life

…you have bags stacked on bags under your eyes, and you can tell you’re “starting to look older”

…the music you listened to in high school is on the classic rock station

…your Friday nights consist of ice cream and pajamas, and you look forward to it!

…your kids don’t understand the concept of a “house phone” and how it used to be “plugged into the wall”

…you get carded and you’re actually FLATTERED that they asked for your ID

…you look around and start to wonder what you’ve accomplished in your life, and what you want to accomplish in the next 40 years

…you start a Bucket List because you now realize that time goes quickly and we’re not guaranteed one more day

…you can honestly say you would never want to be 20 again…like ever (cringe)

…and maybe, just maybe, you start to feel like you might know a few things about life

 

What about you?  What could you add to this list?  I’d love to hear your comments, please leave them below!

 

Parenting with hope

139709807Hope: a feeling of expectation or desire for a certain thing to happen; a feeling of trust

Whether you’ve been a parent for 2 days or 2 decades – you know that it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do.  From the second you know you’re expecting, you start to give things up in order for the baby to be healthy, happy and taken care of.  You make sacrifices and go without for yourself you need to, just so that they can have what they need.  You spend your every waking second thinking about them, caring for them, and worrying about them.

Unfortunately, this parenting thing doesn’t come with a very good set of instructions for all of the issues we run into, does it?  What if they get colic and just cry all the time? What if they throw a tantrum in the middle of Target?  What if the teacher says they have a learning disorder?

What if you find out your 16 year old daughter is pregnant?

This is our story.  This was the last few years of our lives.

The relationship that you have with your child is one of sacrificial love, but there are times that love can be tested.  Before our daughter got pregnant, there were years that were extremely hard and tested the boundaries of what we could take as young parents.  We didn’t live anywhere near any family and obviously none of our friends even had teenagers yet, so we had few places to retreat to.

But God is faithful.

During this time of the breaking down of our relationship with our daughter, God was faithful to build our marriage up to a place that was different and stronger than it ever had before. Let me just say, honestly, that if I would have lost the stability of my marriage at that time I’m not sure I would be here today.  For us, the first few months after finding out were like going through a grieving process.  For days we laid in bed and just cried, feeling like it was the end of the world almost.  We had no idea what we were going to do.  We had no idea how our family would ever heal after something so devastating and life altering.

In those first 2 weeks we had lots of “meetings”…we met with the boys parents (and I cried so hard in the parking lot that I didn’t even think I could go in and meet with them), we met with the elders of our church (who were very encouraging and helpful, where we cried some more), we met with the house parents of a home here for teenage mothers (which is where our daughter stayed for a few months, and we cried).  I think back on this time as a “setting in” of sorts.  It’s like your family is being picked up out of their lives and just dropped into something brand new and scary.  There’s a huge transitioning with confusion and chaos, but then you start to settle in a bit and realize that this is your “new” normal.

There are so many testimonies of how we made it through those first few months, too many for one blog, but the thing that God showed to us through this whole time was that He is faithful.  It’s during this storm that He gave us our family scripture:

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  Jeremiah 29:11

Those first few months, I wanted to give up.  I was angry and I didn’t understand how God could allow this to happen, how He could stand back and watch our family get torn apart – both by the unexpected pregnancy and by our difficult relationship with our daughter.  I wanted to give up on hope, on thinking our family could ever be normal again.  I tried to squash out hope, to give up, but no matter how hard I tried to get rid of it,  that mustard seed of hope would not vanish.  He hung on to me when I was trying to let Him go.

It’s not easy, and some days I still feel like I’m not sure how this is going to work out, but He’s faithful.  He brings us one step closer to Him every day.  There might have to be some breaking, but it’s better to be a broken and poured out vessel that can be used than a perfect looking vessel made to just sit on the shelf and be looked at.  If you’re going through something and you think that He isn’t there with you, just hold on by faith and know that His perfect plan is always being worked out, even in the middle of the storm.

Displaced…but loved

Photo courtesy of sweatpantsandcoffee.com

Photo courtesy of sweatpantsandcoffee.com

Displaced – “to cause something/someone to move on from its proper or usual place

Home – “a place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household”

…also…

“an institution for people needing professional care or supervision” (this one might apply to our family more – ha!)

As of today we have been “displaced” from our home for 3 days.  Our air conditioner has finally died, and due to the fact that we live in Texas and it’s almost July – this is a real problem.  Because there are 4 of us that stay in my house right now, it’s really hard to burden someone with 4 people at the same time. To make things easier my two younger kids are staying with their older sister for a few days (we go and see them at least once a day, they’re just across town) and my husband and I have been staying at friends homes.

Why is it that we’re so connected to our home?  That we get so wrapped up in how it looks and what it portrays about us?  Psychologists say that in our western culture, our very identity is wrapped up in our houses, and if that’s taken away from us it leaves a void.  Don’t you agree that YOUR home says a lot about you?  If you walk into a friends house for the first time, can’t you tell a lot about them by how they decorate and what it looks like?  Our home is more than a place we have the right to live in, it’s a place that houses our families and provides safety and comfort.  A place where we belong.  Take that away and let me tell you, it feels like your world is off kilter and you’re pretty uncomfortable.

As you’ve heard me talk about in the past here, we live far from family and have been blessed with friends where we live that are very much family to us!  Because of the generosity of those friends, we have had a place to stay for the last few days; one home was with a couple that just had their first baby 6 months ago (playing with a baby for 2 days – yes please!), and now we are staying with friends that have a separate garage apartment (so that our schedule during the week doesn’t get in anybody’s way).

With all the back and forth craziness with the air conditioning company and the constant running from one place to another, and running here and there for things we keep forgetting…we have been less than easy guests I’m sure, and our hosts have been nothing but kind and generous.

Here’s a few tips that I would give on how to be a good hostess to overnight guests and help them feel more at home (like our awesome friends did):

1.  Share your toothpaste, etc. with them – displaced people often forget that they will need to brush their teeth in the future and leave their home unprepared (I forgot ALL hair products and went to work today looking like a cave man – sorry coworkers!)

2.  Offer extra blankets – especially after you let them know that you keep the house at a chilly 68 degrees at night (thanks for the blankets Todd!)

3.  Remember to let them know what the house rules are – the last thing you would want was a guest coming into your house first thing in the morning and finding you doing your naked yoga…these are important details to convey

Right now I am sitting on the bed in a quiet room, listening to birds chirping outside my window, maybe displacement does have its advantages after all…

Do you have any funny stories from times you’ve been a guest at someone’s home?  I’d love to hear it!  Leave your comments below!

Huge victories!

schoolThis week my son went to spend the night at a friends house and has now been over there for 3 nights in a row.  He’s 12, and I’m sure this is very normal behavior for most preteens, but for him, this is the culmination of everything he has worked for over the last 5 or 6 years.  You see, he has Aspergers and spending the night away from home is one of his “fears” that grips him.  This week we’ve all been celebrating this HUGE victory for him, and holding on to the hope that some of his other struggles might be overcome as well!

The Mayo Clinic describes Asperger’s Syndrome as this:  “… is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Children with Asperger’s syndrome typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.”

When my son, K, was 4, we realized that he was not like most other kids.  Looking back it was the little things that caught our attention; the instant anger/frustration that came from switching the schedule without warning, the absolute knock down fits when he knew there would be a punishment for something, and the way that he never wanted to be hugged or touched.  We honestly just though this was maybe his personality and didn’t think too much of it.  After all, he was so young.

As he got older, we noticed he wasn’t as social as some of the other kids his age, he had a really hard time relating to other boys in a “rough and tumble” sense.  Soon after that we started to see that he would flip light switches on and off a certain number of times (come to find out it was any number that was divisible by 3), and he would constantly open and close doors 3 times as well.  Again, the doctor reassured us that his OCD  really wasn’t bad enough that we needed to do anything major about it (she actually told us that making a big deal each time he did it would only cause him to think about it more often).  At this time he was already on an ADD medication that helped some of his other issues as well.

During all of this, his doctor was wonderful!  She’s not one to prescribe medicine quickly and is always open to answer questions and not jump to conclusions.  Because of her laid back attitude I think that we survived those years and came out of it with a better understanding of who God created K to be, instead of always questioning “why” or seeing his struggles as him being “broken”.

K is a bit better now at the social aspect of school (says his teachers who swear he’s at the center of the popularity circle – mind. blown.), but he struggles still at understanding friendships and how they work, and is still not much of a “touchy feely” kid (despite my rigorous efforts), but he is a lot of fun to be around!

He’s a pretty hilarious kid who thinks that he is destined to either be a rapping break dancer (the kid has some moves – he gets that from his Dad) or a Major League Video Gamer.  His Dad and I think that due to his awesome math/engineering mind (Aspergers kids usually are really good at one area of school over the rest, math is K’s area for sure) that he’s probably better off as an Engineer – maybe the first ever rapping/break dancing/engineer…leave it to him to create a whole new field of study!

Do you have any experience with someone with Aspergers?  Do you know of any adults that struggle with it?  If so, how do they handle life? (I’m always curious)

Leave your comments below!